When Mark and Vicki Serisier first saw pictures and brochures of the new Scenic Eclipse two years ago, they were bowled over.
“It looked like the trip of a lifetime. Normally, cruises are not something that appealed to us but this looked like it would be fabulous and luxurious,” said Vicki.
So Mark surprised Vicki by booking a 12-day trip to Antarctica, set to depart in November this year.
Now the Queensland couple are devastated, after learning from Cruise Passenger’s website and their travel agent that the ship’s launch has been delayed for six months.
They have already spent around $4,000 on a deposit for the cruise as well as extra costs for hotels, flights and side trips. And because they are committed to the flights, they are desperately trying to fill the 12-day hole left by the cruise cancellation.
The couple first learned of the cancellation through their travel agent and a Cruise Passenger article. They have still to be contacted by Scenic.
The company’s owner and CEO, Glen Moroney said in a statement last week that guests had been informed and the company would be giving them 25 per cent off future Scenic cruises.
“Despite the best efforts of our Scenic Eclipse Build Supervision Team to make up construction time, we are not prepared to compromise the quality of the vessel and potentially impact guest experiences to meet the original late August 2018 launch date.
“We have apologised to affected guests for the inconvenience caused and confirmed that Scenic will provide a full refund for the cost of their Scenic Eclipse cruise and consideration of any other reasonable associated costs incurred with their travel plans.”
But the Serisier’s have yet to been contacted – and are angered by what they see as a “lack of transparency”.
Vicki said: “We haven’t even been contacted by Scenic and it wasn’t till our travel agent contacted us, while she was on holiday, and told us the news. It’s an absolute lie that they have contacted their passengers and apologised.
“I had to jump online to find out more information on Cruise Passenger’s website – Scenic’s website didn’t have any extra information.”
Cruise Passenger could not find anything about the delay on the line’s website, scenic.com.au, when we searched on Thursday. The 2018/19 brochures for the Scenic Eclipse were still on offer.
The couple planned to spend $100,000 on their dream holiday, nearly half of it on the cruise to Antarctica. And they cannot get refunds for flights and hotels, so have to make the trips anyway.
“South America is a long haul so we had planned a massive trip around the Scenic Eclipse cruise. We can’t get out of our flights, tours and hotels booked and on top of that, we have a 12-day chunk in the middle of the trip, which was dedicated to the cruise,” said Mark.
“But you would expect, with guests spending a lot of money on this holiday, that Scenic would have informed their guests. It’s also just poor project management.
“We understand the ship is suppose to have her maiden sailings start next month, and the company would have known that they were behind schedule a long time ago.”
At this stage, the couple will go ahead with their South American trip as planned, but without the cruise aboard the Eclipse.
“It’s extremely disappointing and we are frustrated and annoyed. We took time off work. Around that time of year, we normally spend it with family. Now, we’ll have to fork out extra money next year to be able to go on the cruise,” said Vicki.
The $250 million Scenic Eclipse has the capacity for 228 passengers and has features onboard like specialty restaurants, a mini-submarine as well as two helicopters.
The Polar Class 6 ice rated ship was set to sail through the Russian Arctic, the Northwest Passage, Southern Greenland, Alaska and more.
Scenic is appealing a judgement made last year in which it was found the company failed to inform passengers about European river levels and the effect on sailings. More than 1,200 unhappy travellers took part in the legal action.
Cruise Passenger asked Scenic about the Serisier’s voyage. A spokesperson said, “We are contacting our client and their agents in order of departure date. If the guests are on a departure that has been cancelled then, yes, they will receive a full refund and a future travel credit. Other associated travel costs will be reviewed.”
The spokesperson said in response to the couple’s claim, “The delays are as a result of unforseeable issues at the shipyard.”